What is the Daniel Fast?
In the first chapter of the book of Daniel, we learn of the young prophet's tension over the differences between the Babylonian customs and his Jewish ways, and it had to do with food. Daniel refused to defile the body that he had set apart for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The food offered to him – meat and wine dedicated to the Babylonian false gods – wouldn't do. So Daniel and his companions entered a partial fast, eating only vegetables and water to remain faithful to their God.
The Daniel Fast is based on Jewish fasting principles and the experiences of the prophet in Daniel 1 and Daniel 10. The Daniel Fast is a plant-based eating plan with the only beverage being water. Since the diet is totally plant-based, no animal products are consumed, including fish, shellfish, dairy products, or eggs. In Daniel 10:3, we learn that during a time of great mourning, Daniel also abstained from meat, "pleasant" food, and wine. It's based on this account that we eliminate sugar, candy, and desserts from the Daniel Fast, along with alcohol.
Because Daniel was a man of God, we can assume that he also followed Jewish fasting principles, and all leavening products are eliminated, including yeast, baking powder, and baking soda. Lastly, all the food in the Daniel Fast is natural, which eliminates man-made chemicals, artificial flavorings and colorings, food additives and preservatives, highly processed foods, and foods or drinks that contain stimulants such as caffeine.
Keys to Prayer and Fasting
I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
…in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
…to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.
- All vegetables and fruits fresh, frozen, dried, juiced, or canned.
- All whole grains. These include but are not limited to barley, brown rice, cornflour, cornmeal, grits, millet, oat bran, oats, popcorn, quinoa, rice cakes, wheat germ, whole-wheat pasta, and whole wheat tortillas.
- All nuts and seeds. Nut butter such as peanut butter and tahini (sesame seed paste) may be included.
- All legumes canned or dried. Legumes include but are not limited to black beans, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, white beans, etc.
- All quality oils such as olive oil, canola, coconut, peanut, sesame.
- All water be creative and flavor with natural flavors.
- All Soy foods such as tofu and other soy products
- Condiments, fresh herbs, and spices when possible.
From the start, include God in your fast. Pray privately but also try to pray with others at the conference, or during 21 Days of church-wide Prayer.
Create menus, along with your shopping lists each week. Decide what you will eat and not eat during your individual fast. Write some things down in a journal and ask God to help you answer some of your questions. What is the purpose of your fast? When will it begin and end? Have I set up my daily calendar having set times to pray, study, meditate on God's Word? What study and devotional materials will I use to focus on God? How will I eat and also relate to friends and family during meals? Will I pack lunches and set aside certain times or days for meal prep?
Start to get your body ready by increasing the amount of water you drink and tapering off things like caffeine so that you can go through the withdrawal symptoms of headaches and such before you start the fast. Typically, these symptoms do not last longer than three days. Taking steps to prepare your body will ease the discomfort that will occur when you start the fast.
In the Daniel Fast, corporately sharing in the experience with others to hold you accountable and encourage you to keep going, is essential. Will there be times when you must forgo the fast and temporarily pause from it? Yes, do everything to maintain your fast, but don't let "legalism" crowd out important family moments or cause health issues to occur. Answer the questions in the devotional and set aside time daily to get in the Word. We encourage you to attend the conference, go to the morning prayer sessions, take notes during Sunday messages, and attend Worship Night this month as we pursue God together as a church.